Bahamian four-star center Kai Jones has narrowed his college choices down to just three schools in pursuit of his professional basketball dream. He received a lot of interest, entertaining over 40 scholarship offers.
Now, it’s down to just three. The athletic 17-year-old has settled on either the University of Texas at Austin Longhorns, the Florida State University (FSU) Seminoles or the Baylor University Bears. He visited all three schools in September.
In addition to those three schools, Jones also visited Syracuse University last month but has not listed it as one of his top choices.
The Longhorns plays in the Big 12 Conference. They finished last season with a win-loss record of 19-15 and ended their season in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament in the first round, losing to Nevada. The Seminoles finished the season with a 23-12 record and lost to the University of Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. They are in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
Baylor lost a
buzzer-beater 78-77 heartbreaker to Mississippi State University Bulldogs in the National Invitation Tournament’s (NIT) second round last season. They finished the season with a win-loss record of 19-15. Like the Longhorns, the Bears plays in the Big 12 Conference.
Back in August, Jones, the Brewster Academy standout and number 45 ranked player in the ESPN Top 100 for the Class of 2019 said his choice will be based on a school that has a strong business program and an interest in developing his skill type.
“(I’m looking for) a school that is prioritizing me, and a school where I can make an immediate impact. I want to study business so the school must also have a good business program. I want to study finance specifically. The school must have an ability to develop players like me, bigger and skilled guys who are versatile,” Jones said.
He was recruited by the University of Providence and the University of Kansas, among others. Iowa State University, the University of Oregon, the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), the University of Miami, the University of Louisville, the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and the University of Arizona are others that expressed interest in the versatile Bahamian post player.
The ESPN Top 100 list for the Class of 2019 was posted early last month. The 6’10” Jones was not the only player from Brewster Academy to make the list. He was joined by two of his teammates, Jalen Lecque and Alonzo Gaffney. Lecque is ranked at number 22 and Gaffney is at number 29.
Jones said: “It’s great to have two other teammates (on the list). It’s awesome to see they are having success in the game as well. To have two teammates (on the list), to have all these offers and all these accolades at a high level, is a great feeling. Iron sharpens iron, so as we are practicing and working out together, we are going to make each other better”.
Jones is expected to be groomed into a special player under Coach Jason Smith at Brewster Academy. Bahamians can see him as he begins his new chapter right here in New Providence on November 2 at the inaugural Caribbean Tip-Off Classic, when Brewster Academy plays Ridley College Prep out of Canada.
Jones is excited to have an opportunity to showcase his skills and talent in front of the Bahamian people. The classic will be held November 2-4.
Jones’ ultimate goal is to make it to the National Basketball Association (NBA). That is what he is working hard for every day, he said. Jones looks at Bahamian NBA players Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield and DeAndre Ayton, and sees that hard work pays off.
“It is great to see Bahamian people being successful. They are really putting us on the map, and they are a testament of how hard work can really pay off. Buddy worked extremely hard, and DeAndre is gifted but he also worked on his game really hard. Seeing Bahamians work hard inspires me. Buddy inspired me more because I was younger when he got drafted and he did it with pure hard work,” said Jones.
All three of the schools that Jones has on his shortlist have created quality NBA players. Jones is on the right path to realizing his dream of playing in the NBA one day. For instance, Longhorns alumni currently playing in the NBA includes Golden State Warriors forward and two-time NBA Champion Kevin Durant.
Wherever Jones decides to go, he is expected to carry his intense work ethic with him. He has a good chance of being drafted into the NBA, joining the ranks of Mychal ‘Sweet Bells’ Thompson, Hield and Ayton as Bahamian players to be drafted into the NBA.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism